Thursday, July 31, 2008

Skelos Putting on a Budget Show; Was Never Serious in First Place So Why Believe Him Now?

In Skelos' press release about the budget problems, Skelos mentioned that the State Senate approved a constitutional amendment that would cap state spending increases at 4%. He said "the Senate gave first passage to a constitutional amendment to cap the annual growth in State spending at no more than 4 percent. We recognized early on that a cap on state spending... would drive down spending, eliminate deficits and better protect taxpayers."
In Skelos' press conference he brought up the spending cap amendment again and added that the State would have saved a couple of billion dollars if it had been in place.
That is absolutely true.
The thing is though, my mother had always taught me that you can do things without being told to do them because it is the right thing to do. Skelos approved a State Budget that INCREASED spending by nearly 5 percent.

From the New York Times in March "The budget will increase aid to public schools by $1.75 billion over last year, and more than a third of the new money is to go directly to New York City. There is also $6 billion for capital projects at the State University of New
York and the City University of New York."
"...Some 2,000 new workers will be added to the state’s work force of 200,000. Each legislative chamber will receive $350 million in funds — derided by critics as pork — to dole out for capital projects across the state. And lawmakers perpetuated their widely criticized practice of handing out state money for various projects in their districts."

“They’re doing their pork, and they’re not doing any significant cutbacks,” said E. J. McMahon, director of the Empire Center at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative research group. “It’s very, very shortsighted. I get the feeling that legislators are knowingly burning the furniture in advance of an election.”

Even on the other side of the political spectrum, experts were questioning the wisdom of not making more cuts now.

“They’re not taking the difficult actions now to make the budget balanced over time,” said Frank Mauro, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, a left-leaning research group."

Skelos also said "However, even in the absence of a constitutional spending cap, the Legislature and the Governor should voluntarily agree to comply with the spending cap in next year’s Budget."
Again, why have to wait until next year?
Why didn't Skelos fight for only a 4% increase this year and stick with it?
You don't need to have a law tell you not to stab yourself in the eye with a fork. You just don't do it.

New York State Budget Deficit Grows - Will Skelos Cut His Own Staff?

While Skelos was taking his Victory Lap.. err "Listening Tour" around the state after becoming Majority Leader of the Senate, the budget DEFICIT increased $1.4billion in the past few weeks.
Governor Paterson is calling the Legislature back to Albany to clean up the mess.
Skelos said in his news conference that he would "not support" layoffs. He does support "consolidation." Now how can you consolidate without cutting something?
When it comes to State employees, the Majority Leaders office leads the country in the number of employees. I posted before about a New York Sun article showing that the Majority Leaders office has a staff of 530. The New York State legislature employs 45% MORE people than the legislatures of California and Texas. Skelos needs to take a look at how the legislature is run. Until then, he is NOT serious about solving the problems of the State.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Skelos' Magical Mystery Tour Update: Can a Deaf Man Go on a Listening Tour?

Our Dean is at it again. What an embarassment.
From The Albany Project:
"Does Skelos Even Know Where He Is? (+)
by: phillip anderson
That's a serious question. Check out what he had to say while visiting Chemung County yesterday:

"New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos says Chemung County is only slightly different from his native Nassau County."

Um, what? Let's look at the numbers, shall we?

.............Chemung County................Nassau County

Population: 91070..............................1,334,544
Towns: 11...................................................3
Villages: 5 ...............................................64
School Districts: 3...................................56
Largest Town by pop: Horseheads, 19,561........Hempstead, 755,924
Median HH Income: $36,415................$72,030
Unemployment rate: 5.4%......................4.3%

I mean, I could go on. Chemung county government is largely controlled by republicans, including their county leg, County Exec, Treasurer, District Attorney while Nassau County is largely controlled by Democrats including their county leg, County Exec, District Attorney, etc.

It would appear, on paper at least, that Chemung County isn't exactly "only slightly different" than Nassau County.

I think Dean may need more than few more of these "listening tours" upstate. It's obvious he knows next to nothing about the region."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Donno Camapign Cash Numbers; The Empty Pant-Suit Candidate

The mark of a top-tier serious candidate is being able to raise money. Barbara Donno is Skelos' girl to beat Democrat Craig Johnson. And she REALLY is Skelos' girl.
Donno "raised" $400,000 according to her new filing.
Well, actually the Republican Campaign Committee gave Donno $355,000.
That means she only raised $45,000 on her own.
From that, $9500 is from Skelos' campaign fund!!!
And $500 came from the NRA.
That doesn't show any local support for her at all.
Of the $400,000 she HAD, she now has $45,000 cash on hand.
Donno or whoever is running her campaign blew $300,000 on those two really ineffective ads.

The funny thing about the $355,000 from the Republican Committee is that the money came after Skelos became Majority Leader.

Now hasn't the undeclared-republican republican Donno been saying in her ads that she isn't a "typical politician" and says Albany has alot of problems?
The cash Donno got is FROM ALBANY.
She IS a typical politician.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New Swag

From the Skelos Watch Store....

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Is Barbara Donno Running Against Dean?

Maureen O'Connell did it back in the February Special Election and Donno is doing it now. Visit Donno's website and you'd be hard pressed to know she is the REPUBLICAN candidate. The word "REPUBLICAN" doesn't appear anywhere on her site.
Is that because she is "not your typical politician" as she claims?
Nah, she knows running as a republican this year is bad news.
Her main page intro sounds like she is an insurgent Democrat taking on a Majority republican... like Dean Skelos.
Babs says "We pay the highest taxes in the state and get little in return. I'm running for State Senate because we deserve better. It's time to take a stand and fight for the changes we need and deserve."
So Dean Skelos and his Long Island 9 ...8...7.... have pretty much done nothing and we do certainly deserve better. And that's according to Donno the REPUBLICAN candidate.

Donna also says "More than anything, you deserve to know who I am and what I will do if you elect me to the State Senate."
Yes, yes you do. Please visit Here and Here to know more about Donno.
That is her record. It's something voters should know about.

On her bio page, Donno writes "
Today, too many of our schools are in crisis and taxpayers are simply overburdened. We need fundamental change and that's what I'll fight for in the State Senate."
So again she is saying that the leadership of Dean Skelos is found wanting. Got it.

More on Donno's website coming up...

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Skelos Creates Magic on His Magical Mystery Tour; Announces Grant that was Announced Last Year finds Dean coming to Sackets Harbor and bringing with him $500,000. Dean gets up in typical Nassau Republican fashion and tries to fool the good people of Sackets Harbor "With this grant announcement today, Senate Republicans are saying that we are following through on a commitment for state funding to address this issue and protect the waters of historic Sackets Harbor and Lake Ontario.”

You see, there are two little problems with what Skelos is saying.
The first of course is that this announcement is nothing new. As Jefferson Democrat points out, then-Sen. Jim Wright made the announcement back in November 2007. "I am pleased to help provide this funding for the Village. The upgrades will not only mitigate ongoing run-off issues for existing village residents, but will create the infrastructure support necessary for future development in Sackets Harbor."
The second is that after Wright left the Senate and Democrat Darrel Aubertine won the seat, that grant money didn't materialize. The money was held up for almost a year and now Dean shows up to make nice with Upstaters and suddenly the money is MAGICALLY!!! available.
Yup, it's just a coincidence.
Dean is lucky is all.
That re-announcement is a political cheap-shot and the people in Sackets Harbor should see that Skelos wants to buy them off. He does that here in Nassau all the time.
Dean is an over-sized check pro. He and his cohorts want you the taxpayer believe in the beneficence of Albany by giving YOUR tax money back to you.
Edmund J. McMahon, executive director of the Empire Center for New York State Policy calls this "personal philanthropy with other people’s money."

Magical Mystery Tour Update: You Would Think Skelos Just Became a Senator

But no, he's been there over two decades. On his magical Mystery Tour of Upstate Counties, Skelos is talking about property taxes as if he just discovered the problem and has a solution that for some reason never presented while he was Deputy Majority Leader.
To hear Skelos, he is the cavalry charging in to save the day. Where was all this years ago?
Skelos tells a Oneida County audience his priority is property taxes "The reason for that is people cannot afford to stay in their homes. Whether it's in Buffalo, Oneida County, or Nassau County where I live. So that's an issue that really does unite the entire state,"
And yet years of NOTHING from Skelos before he became majority Leader.
Actually, it was years of something and that something was ever-increasing spending from Albany.
Skelos says "And I'm hopeful that within the next month that we will be putting out an upstate economic development package that will help create jobs,"
Upstate has been in an economic decline for years. What took Skelos so long to figure out that they need help?

Skelos' Tax Cap Acrobatics Continued

Here is a letter the Republican Senate Delegation from Long Island sent to Newsday. They oppose a Property Tax Cap "Take the school tax cap proposal. Our constituents are telling us that a 4% cap is too high and that they want cuts in spending, not guaranteed perpetual tax increases. A cap might slow their rate of drowning, but they are still drowning."

And here is Dean Skelos less than one month later "If a cap is part of the solution, then I will be supportive of a cap."

Dean Skelos Upstate Tour '08

Dean is going around upstate counties trying to convince people that after all the years of hording money for Long Island (except Democratic Districts) and saying upstate is taking Long Island tax dollars he will be a fair Majority Leader.
Upstaters have a different view.
Back in March, fellow republican
Senator John Bonacic sent out a mailing that said "For too long, a disproportionate share of education aid was being driven to Long Island and the City of New York at our expense.”
Dean has alot of convincing to do.
I'll have a round-up of press coverage of Skelos' tour coming up.


Dean gets a 9.5, 9.0, 9.5, 8 and 9.5 for his Property Tax Cap Flip Execution

Bill Hammond of the NY Daily News writes "Dean Skelos has completely flip-flopped on property taxes since taking over as state Senate majority leader - and that's a rare sign of hope for New York's GOP.
His U-turn suggests that maybe, just maybe, Skelos could pull the state's Republican-in-name-only Party out of a decade-long nosedive and give voters a real choice at the polls in November."
A few weeks ago - before outgoing Majority Leader Joe Bruno handed him the reins - Skelos privately told fellow party members on Long Island that campaigning for a cap on property taxes would be a losing strategy.
The teachers unions hate the idea, and they vote, he argued, according to people who heard his comments. He counseled candidates to focus on trimming gas taxes instead."

And then the flip after a poll showed 75% of NYers supported a cap:

"There's no issue that's more important to the people of this state than relief from property taxes," Skelos said in his acceptance speech on the Senate floor last month. "This is the No. 1 agenda, the No. 2 agenda and the No. 3 agenda."
He quickly introduced a tax-cap bill closely modeled on Paterson's - which would limit yearly hikes in school taxes outside New York City to 4%, or 120% of the inflation rate, whichever is less - and pledged to cooperate with the Democratic governor to make it happen."

Dean is more concerned with retaining power rather than have principles.
Remember the Skelos priorities:
1) Dean Skelos
2) Republican party
3) Dean Skelos

Lipstick on a Pig: 'Fair Share' Edition

So in all the fawning coverage of Skelos as he becomes a short-term Majority Leader, the facts don't get in the way of a good quote. John Durso, president of the Long Island Federation of Labor tells Newsday "Dean makes sure Long Island gets its fair share."
Well, not really.
If by that Durso really means "Dean makes sure Republican Districts gets its fair share" then yes, Skelos does that.
Now that the the 7th SD seat is held by Democrat Craig Johnson, "fair share" gets tossed out the window.
First, Skelos cut money that was earmarked for the district when Republican Mike Balboni was State Senator.
Then the school district in Craig Johnsons hometown gets a state aid cut while other districts get increases.
And then the Members Items list shows Skelos and the republicans getting millions for thier districts but Johnson was only given $300,000.
There is nothing "fair share" about Skelos. He is all about the politics.
Ask Westchester Democratic Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins who after defeating republican Nick Spano saw the Majority Republicans CUT school aid o her district.
Skelos' priorities are as follows:
1) Dean Skelos
2) Republican party
3) Dean Skelos

Monday, July 7, 2008

A View from Rochester re: Dean Skelos

Senate candidate Rick Dollinger issued a statement:

Dean Skelos, the newly elected majority leader of the Senate, is a product of the GOP machine that nearly bankrupted Nassau County, and as Senator he has voted for billions of dollars in increased spending, unfunded mandates which drive up our property taxes, and, with his Republican colleagues, has failed to help the upstate economy. We don't need his Nassau-style politics here; what we need is a new Senate majority that will actually do something about our out-of-control property taxes and the sky rocketing cost of doing business in New York.

The Republican Party from Washington to Albany has simply failed to do their job and continuing the status quo is unacceptable. This November, voters will tell Dean Skelos and George Bush that they've had enough of their failed policies, electing a Democratic President and a new Democratic majority in the State Senate. This is the change that people want and need, and this is the change we will provide.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Skelos Wants "FAIR SHARE" of School Aid Unless of Course You are a Democratic District

I knew that the whole "fair share" rally held by Skelos and the Dysfunctional Long Island 8 was a crock and now it's been proven. First of all, Skelos, Marcellino, Hannon and Fuschillo have been celebrating mediocrity for years as the accept a lower average for school aid as a victory. It wasn't until school budgets started failing and parents and educators applied pressure that the Skelos 8 started to make education funding a priority.

Now we are seeing that the process for getting more funding for Long Island schools largely depends on what party your state senator belongs to. Skelos is playing politics with our childrens education and that simply cannot stand.

According to the New York Times, "If you look at the amount of property taxes that Long Island homeowners pay, or their wealth as compared to their property tax burden, the aid is relatively low,” said Tom Dunham, a spokesman for Senator Dean G. Skelos, a Nassau County Republican. Mr. Dunham pointed out that while overall aid for Long Island increased, some wealthy districts, like Great Neck, faced decreases in state operating aid.
(Great Neck, as it happens, lies in the district of Long Island’s only Democratic state senator, Craig M. Johnson. Thanks to a separate pot of money controlled and disbursed by Assembly Democrats, even Great Neck and other districts like it had a net increase in state funds.)"

Interesting isn't it.
I have always advocated fully funding schools and codifying an aid formula that works. The system is broken and needs to be fixed before next years budget deadline. That takes political courage which is sorely lacking from the Skelos 8. All districts deserve to be funded, not just some. That is what "fair share" means.
Let's look at the numbers Dunham talks about when it comes to "wealthy districts."
According to Money magazine, the Median Family Income in Great Neck is $108,934 and the average property tax bill is $12,153. Great Neck took a cut of -2.08% from last year.

In Skelos' hometown of Rockville Centre has a Median Family Income of $118,796 and a property tax bill of $7,093. State Aid increased 11.31%

In Hannons hometown of Garden City the median family income is $140,584 and a average property tax bill of $6,938. State Aid increased 1.73%

In Marcellino's hometown of Syosset the median family income is $115,034 and average property tax of $9,618. State Aid increased 8.26%

In Fuschillo's town of Merrick the median family income is $114,484 and average property tax of $7,613. State Aid increased 6.55%

In Democratic Senator Craig Johnson's hometown of Port Washington, average family income is $122,136 and average property tax is $13,515. State Aid was CUT by .72%

See any funny numbers there?

So what does Senator Johnson need to do to stop the cuts since Skelos is playing politics with school funding? He turns to his colleages Assemblyman Chuck Lavine and Assemblywoman Schimel to fill the gap. The Democrats in the Assembly came up with more money so that Great Neck actually received a 0.42 percent increase in overall state funding thanks to $200,000 in Assembly bullet aid and the restoration of $452,843 in high tax aid (Sen. Johnson fought very hard for that, because, as you know there was no way that the republicans were looking out for the 7th)
Port Washington was restored too . With an overall .6 percent thanks to a $50,000 infusion. proposed budget.

From a Johnson press release "This education budget repaired what would have been a disastrous plan for our schools, our children and ultimately all taxpayers," Senator Johnson said. "With this current economic climate, there was a fight for every last dollar. Despite these hardships, we were able to come up with a budget that places an emphasis on education and spares our children from bearing the brunt of this looming financial crisis. I thank Assemblywoman Schimel and Assemblyman Levine for being my partners in this process."

The republicans did the same thing last year after Westchester republican Senator Nick Spano was defeated by Democrat Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Skelos and the republicans went out of their way to screw Westchester on school aid.
"This would never have happened if Senator Nick Spano was still there,” said Senator Dean G. Skelos, the deputy majority leader from Long Island, during a radio interview in New York City last week.

In a later interview, he insisted that Republicans had not sought retribution but that Westchester’s new senator, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and her Democratic colleagues “fell asleep at the switch.”

Ms. Stewart-Cousins replied that the deal was made behind closed doors. “When you have Dean Skelos even pretending that somehow I sat in the chamber and said nothing — as if this were some discussion that was open and aboveboard — it is absolutely ridiculous,” she said.

Simply put, Dean Skelos does NOT CARE about your children.

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Our Staff is Bigger Than Yours - More Albany Dysfunction

I forgot to post this when it first came out.
The NY Sun did a comparison of State Legislature staffing and found that while other states do More with Less, NY does Less with More!

"The Empire State's Legislature employs more people than any other state legislature in the nation.
The state Assembly and Senate totaled 3,428 staff members during its busiest period in 2003, the most recent year for which the National Conference of State Legislatures has employment data. That number is nearly 500 more than the second highest state, Pennsylvania, and it's more than 45% more than either California or Texas, the two most populous states in the union."

The State Senate controlled by Skelos has a staff of 530. In California, the Senate leadership has 50 staffers.

New York State has been called the most dysfunctional in the nation. And all the extra staff haven't helped the culture of dysfunction in Albany.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Democratic Senator Craig Johnson Slaps Skelos Around

Cry-baby Skelos wants a full roster for his gang. Too bad the voters have a different idea. Here is Craig Johnson in Newsday putting Skelos in his place...

"We've always been known as 'The Long Island Nine,' " he said of the area's GOP senators who now number eight. "We're going to be back as The Long Island Nine and Craig Johnson is not going to be a senator after November."

Johnson shot back, "My response to Dean is what I tell my 3-year-old and my 6-year-old when they are having a temper tantrum, 'Take a timeout.' "

Hey Dean, it may be the "Long Island Six or Less" after November.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Skelos Speaks with Forked Tongue

Say one thing to Albany paper, say another to Newsday and hope no one pays attention.
Skelos in the Albany-Times Union about his boss Joe Bruno after his majority on the state senate got one more seat smaller "It’s not about any one individual. It’s about making sure every part of the state is treated fairly,” and in Newsday "
The bottom line is we feel a responsibility ... to Joe as our leader"